Narcissists create, build and maintain their Image as if their lives depended on it. In many ways it does since this is their identity. The narcissist's outer shell--the elaborate perfect facade is what he/she projects in the world. This image is priceless to him--the air that he breathes. From the time most narcissists were very small they developed a false sense of self. An essential part of this self is Image---physical attractiveness, extreme confidence, tremendous drive, no sense of limits, the ability to magnetize, manipulate and control others. This is a time of growing pathological narcissism.
Wherever we go, we are confronted with the priceless image. In our television ads, productions and throughout the media--- youth , beauty, sexiness, handsomeness, athleticism, social confidence are presented as essential to life success. It is possible to have all of these qualities and not be a narcissist. I am speaking about a personality that is based solely on these attributes. There is no room here for the inner self that introspects, is capable of loving relationships despite one's social class or financial status, empathy --the capacity to understand and feel on a deep level what someone else is experiencing, the alleviation of the pain of others through kindness, the ability to perceive oneself clearly--the positive and the negative and make changes that move toward inner personal growth throughout a lifetime.
The narcissist comes to us as a beautifully wrapped package. When you unwrap it, going through the layers, you find more image not substance. Narcissists convince most people that what they are seeing and experiencing in them is real. They believe and are taken in by the elaborate series of masks. In the beginning of a "relationship" with a narcissist most people are dazzled by this person's charm, their powerful personality vibration, the way they are fixated on you. If a narcissist decides that you are the person he wants at this time, he/she will go after you at full force. He lets you know that he has singled you out from everyone else on earth to be the chosen one because you are so special. Narcissists use gifts--often surprising and sometimes extravagant ones to impress and sweep you away. They pay constant attention to you that is flattering and often spell binding. They have been studying you and know how you think and what you most desire. They know your weaknesses and impulsivities. You have become their project since they intend to seduce you in various ways. They intend to become unforgettable to you. They are relentless in their attention. Narcissists are inclined to possess those whom they choose to be part of their inner circle. They need partners who will become part of the golden image that they project on to the world and that is their reality. It is difficult to say "no" to someone who is coming toward you with such gifts of seduction. We want to believe that we are the most important person in the world to this irresistible individual. We all want to be "the one." That is a deep desire within us as human beings. If we take this elaborate bait and are carried up and give ourselves to the narcissist we are becoming part of his/her world. At first the special treatment is glorious. We feel giddy-drunk with this level of attention and the feeling that we can have anything we want. When we are finally seduced and join the narcissist through marriage or partnership, we share his/her life as his/her terms. That's the agreement. Narcissist make deals not relationships.
After being married to a narcissist (sometimes before) we notice significant cracks in the too good to be true image. There are burst of rage that come from nowhere. We are criticized for something we didn't do; the narcissist verbally picks at us incessantly, putting us down with cruel comments and hateful glances. We try to please him/her. Nothing works. What we are experiencing is the dark core of the narcissist behind the mask---that part of the self that is seething beneath the surface. Those who live with him when the doors and windows are shut are subjected to the Jekyll/Hyde treatment. It is an ugly and frightening experience. Mr. Hyde is out, glowering up close at your face; projecting his psychological sputum on to you. The screaming starts and never seems to end; accusations fly; defamations spew; threats charge the air. How much of this are you willing to take. Hopefully, you can say to yourself: "Enough"!
Regardless of what you do, the rigid narcissistic personality remains immutable---fixed, cold, cruel, conniving, exploitive, highly abusive, inhumane. Learning about the narcissistic personality in all of its facets will help you in the present relationship and in the future. For more information about this personality disorder, visit my website:thenarcissistinyourlife.com
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Telephone Consultation: United States and International
Book: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life